This Before & After is a Lesson in the Power of a Design Concept

Homes Worth Celebrating

Behind the interior design at MB Provence Penthouse

Feature Image: Provence Penthouse, Megan Baker Interiors

Transforming a house into a home can be a daunting task, especially when it’s a forever home. What style do you want to commit to? How do you know what furniture maximizes the space? The house already came with lighting, does it really need to be updated? These are the questions I was called in to answer when homeowners bought a dreamy apartment in the city to make their own.

Newly constructed, this penthouse apartment had some great bones to work with but still lacked unique personality. This is a common issue with new development properties, so I worked with the client on a furniture and decor package, to customize the space . The finished product is a lesson in the power of a design concept to transform a house into a home.

What is a concept?

A combination of wants, needs, and wishes all come together to build a design brief. However, that only narrows design options down part way. To get to the perfect solution a strong commitment to a few key words that make up a feeling for your space is necessary. These are the terms to come back to at every decision making point as a guideline or, design concept that will turn a house into a home. For what would become the Provence Penthouse, these were our guiding principals:

  • Light, bright, welcoming
  • Provençal, Southern French inspired
  • Understated, effortless, elegant
  • Nostalgic & familiar

Eliminating distractions

Often new developments have had an interior design team, but the project’s take so long that the details are altered year over year and are installed far from the original intent. My first move in the turning this house into a home for its owners was to eliminate architectural distractions and highlight the features. I swapped glam lighting for something softer to suit the concept, and added artwork above the beautiful fireplace to make sure it couldn’t be missed. My team installed custom drapery to frame the elegant windows, and conceal some asymmetrical wall moulding. Then I worked out a floor plan to play up the gracious square footage and optimize traffic flow. A few special antiques from the homeowners collection paired with carefully selected new pieces make the home look equally familiar and fresh.

BEFORE: Staged to sell, and lacking personality (and a focal point!)

AFTER: The new furniture opens up the floor plan, and a few custom tricks eliminate as built distractions

Highlighting a focal point

For a close knit family that loves to entertain, the dining room simply had to be the focal point of the whole home. In fact, this light fixture was the first purchase made! The easiest, and usually most necessary, way to add personality to a home is to change out the light fixtures. They’re a natural focal point because they add height, scale, and a layer of architectural detail that can dramatically enhance your design concept. Not to mention– they light up! Choosing wisely transformed the dining room into the center of attention for the whole open concept floor plan. After that, a family piece of art took its place on the wall to provide grounding contrast to the French country shades of white that make up the table and chairs in the space.

BEFORE: Un-balanced sizes and scales don’t make an impact in the dining room

AFTER: Family artwork prominently displayed above a large buffet that ties into the wall panelling

AFTER: an antique inspired chandelier is the focal point of the whole open concept home

customizing the library

This room is my personal favourite before and after transformation! The power of a design concept (and a statement floral arrangement) turned a boring den into a dreamy library for a homeowner who loves to read. Custom built in shelving highlights a beloved collection of books, and was an important investment to make the most out of an unusual floor plan in this room off of the front entry. What could have been a collect-all office is now an incredibly personal space to enjoy that adds tons of character to the whole home. Add a library ladder, and an antique inspired desk for a nostalgic bibliothèque feel.

BEFORE: a floor plate hard to customize with ready made storage solutions

AFTER: custom shelving houses a prized collection and adds tons of personality to the front room

thinking vertical

Walls can do much more than hold artwork. Here, they are the perfect canvas for a beautiful wallpaper that just so happens to appear in the inspiration board for this Provençal inspired penthouse. Going vertical with concept enhancing design decisions instantly upgraded this whole principal bedroom into the retreat it needed to be. I chose a four poster bed to further occupy the vertical space in this room for a little drama and a lot of visual interest. Custom drapery also helps to draw the eye up and out to the private terrace , while adding cozy layers of texture to the room.

BEFORE: Furniture all at the same height doesn’t take advantage of the vertical space

AFTER: a reading corner fit for a home with its own library

AFTER: beautiful wallpaper and a four poster bed add a sense of scale to the principal suite

As the homeowners report back on what all their guests think of their beautiful new space, they all had the same thing to say– it feels so good in here! That’s the power of a design concept; it’s not a theme or a costume for the home, it’s a few thoughts and guidelines that transform a house into a home as dynamic as the people who live in it. After making the major design moves, and layering in all the small details, this Provençal inspired penthouse flows from city to country and elegant to effortless. It also opens up to live between indoors and out, but I’ll save the terrace for another post! (Take a tour here if you can’t wait for even more inspiration.)

Ready to start your own forever home project? Say hello at the contact form online and we’ll get started on your own design concept sure to transform a house into a home.

Thank you to some of our favourite colleagues and suppliers for being a part of this project:

Custom library shelves — Unhinged Contracting

Custom drapery — Fabulous Furnishings

Lighting — CF Interiors

Antique Inspired Furniture — The Cross Decor and Design

Furniture and Bedding — RH

Accessories — Monika Hibbs Home

Megan Baker

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